Our blacks certainly are not seeing it
It seems like every time we turn around, someone from Kentucky’s education complex is telling us “We’ve made a lot of progress here in Kentucky” in education.
Well, I am sorry, but that just isn’t what I see in the data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). I just updated some of the numbers, and especially for Kentucky’s major minority population, claiming the state has “made a lot of progress” seems like a cruel deception.
Figure 1 shows the earliest and latest available scores for Kentucky’s black students from the NAEP Grade 4 and Grade 8 reading and math assessments.
The first thing you will note is that there is plenty of “white space” above the latest, 2015 proficiency rates. How can you talk about “a lot of progress” when, as of the latest 2015 NAEP results, Kentucky’s blacks are reporting proficiency rates only around 23 percent and lower?
The truth is that Kentucky has made limited progress over the quarter of a century since the Kentucky Education Reform Act of 1990 was enacted. However, the rate of improvement has been very slow and our black students have a very, very long way to go before they see the kinds of proficiency rates they need.
How long will it take?
Check this table, which is derived from data in Figure 1. This shows the projected time for Kentucky’s black students to reach an 80 percent proficiency rate on the NAEP’s tests.
As you can see, based on Kentucky’s actual, demonstrated progress, it will take the Bluegrass State’s black students 87 years to reach an 80 percent proficiency level on the NAEP Grade 4 Reading Assessment and an astonishing 277 years before our black eighth graders to do the same in reading!
Math doesn’t look much better. Kentucky’s black fourth graders will need 81 more years to reach an 80 percent proficiency rate in NAEP math. For the eighth grade blacks, we are looking at 170 more years to reach that proficiency level!
Now you can better understand why – after more than a quarter of a century of promises from our traditional public school system about improving performance of the state’s minority students – it is way past time for Kentucky to look to other education options. Viable options include school choice with charter schools and even tuition tax credit approaches to make good on a 25+ year promise that has not come true for our minority citizens.